Believe me. I'm just as shocked as you.
For all those who do not know me, my name is Clarence "Showstealer" Mason. I used to do Random Thoughts on Wrestling columns here. A moment of seriousness in amongst the humor of the site. In other words: I was the Lance Storm of the WrestleCrap Radio site (Sadly without Giant Dong).
I stopped doing them full time about 3 years ago, popping up from time to time when I had a thought to share. I always reserved that right and I thank PB or whoever is now running the show [My evil twin, sometimes - PB] for still allowing me the chance. But to be perfectly honest I didn't think I'd ever be here again, never thought I'd ever do another Random Thoughts column. I really did think I was done. Too much had changed for me personally with my mental health and to be honest I just didn't give enough of a, if you'll pardon the pun, crap about wrestling to get worked up enough to get into a long winded Random Thoughts like diatribe. I didn't really like much of WWE, TNA was a joke and not a funny one and I didn't really watch enough of anything else to comment past a few lines on the WrestleCrap forums.
But something there in the past couple of days got me thinking and I want to kind of expand on it. Specifically I mean this thread, which mentions the pop that Steve Austin got and how that doesn't really happen any more. Why is that? I mean they are different eras and all but people should still get huge reactions to when they come out if they're done properly. Yet right now I can name with all honestly just TWO people who would get even close to the "Austin" pop in Todays WWE. Daniel(son) Bryan and CM Punk (provided he ever came back).
As I thought about this I went even further. One of the biggest knocks on Vince Russo as a writer was his "Shades of Grey" philosophy to booking/writing; There are no "Good" or "White Hatted" guys, there are no "Bad" or "Black Hatted" guys, everyone has a hint of both, a "Shade of Grey" if you will. In "The Rise and Fall of WCW" DVD the WWE pretty much skewered Russo over this. It was the main problem prominent wrestling journalists like Bryan Alvarez had with him. No one could get over because there wasn't a reason to cheer or boo a wrestler because they were neither Face or Heel.
Turn that to today's WWE: Next to NO ONE gets a reaction, besides the tepid "boo" heel heat. In fact in my opinion there are only 5 people that have genuine "Heat" in the WWE, 5 people that have the ability to make fans care one way or another.
That's it. Now some of you will say "Well, what about Brock Lesnar?". It is true Brock DOES get a reaction as a monster and the Beast Incarnate. HOWEVER almost all his heat comes from his spokesman, Paul Heyman, who being the one guy from the past era knows that the job of any good manager/spokesman/whatever the WWE wants to call it today is to get the Heat on your CLIENT, NOT yourself because ultimately the fans are paying to see your client get beaten up not you.
You may also argue John Cena, but he does still get a reaction, even if it isn't the one the WWE would like it to be. For all the talk of how sick everyone is of Cena "overcoming the odds" again, he still gets some of the biggest reactions on the show, so he's doing SOMETHING right. Even if I don't know what that is at times.
The rest of the WWE? Pretty much silence or the tepid reaction. Again, Dean Ambrose MAY get to the list, but he ain't there yet. No one cares about Randy Orton, or Seth Rollins, or Rusev or anyone else you care to mention, because the WWE has done nothing to make us WANT to care. Rusev shouldn't be looking weak to the Big Show or Mark Henry, he's supposed to be your next monster but the minute he looked vulnerable what happened? The fans stopped caring. Seth Rollins has tried everything to get over, putting Ambrose "On the Shelf", winning Money in the Bank, cutting solid promos, but he's still known more as the Authority lapdog than a genuine star.
And that brings us to another problem and ironically another slight against Vince Russo that the WWE have fallen into. Titles meaning nothing. Everyone still remembers David Arquette winning the WCW title and killing it dead. But let's look at today's WWE and ask ourselves "Are the WWE doing any better than Russo ever did?". Let's look at the current list of Champions and find out.
WWE Champion: Brock Lesnar
This seems like a no-brainer "No Problem Here" on the surface but let's probe deeper. Brock hasn't been on TV since Night of Champions. He isn't likely to be on TV again till the new year and the run up to the Royal Rumble. Remember when the WWE had this problem earlier with Daniel Bryan after he got injured and "How important it was to have the WWE Champion on TV". You may argue storyline and fair enough but you're also asking the fans to buy a double standard and that's not really a thing I see happening.
Intercontinental Champion: Dolph Ziggler
Do I even need to explain here? I can explain this one in just one question. I wish I could claim this myself but I can't, I first heard Spoony mention it in his Hell in A Cell review and then went back to confirm it. Ziggler beat Cesaro on the Smackdown before Hell in A Cell. Can you name the last time he won a singles match on TV before then? By that I mean Raw or Smackdown and not on the B-Shows on the WWE Network which you could get for only $9.99 but why the fuck would you bother when you can see most of the shit you want to see for free on YouTube anyway because the WWE won't DMCA because they're retarded and think that if you watch these things you'll buy the WWE Network for only $9.99. It was over 3 weeks before, on September 29's Raw when he won a triple threat match over Cesaro and the Miz. And this is the man who is supposed to be the highest standing champion on TV every week? Can you imagine the Rock not winning a singles match in almost a month in the Attitude Era when he was IC Champ? It's a long standing rule in wrestling: If the Champion means nothing, the Belt means nothing and if the Belt means nothing then why the fuck are we supposed to care?
United States Champion: Sheamus
If ever there was a prime example of the "Shades of Grey" philosophy in the WWE today it's Sheamus, who is supposed to be a Babyface yet acts like more of a Heel than half the Heel roster. Also he's currently in a feud where the most over isn't either of the two guys fighting for the belt, it's the challengers second: Miz-Dow.
WWE Tag Team Champions: Golddust and StarDust
I like the Cosmic Duo but it's hard to take a tag team division seriously when there are only 4 teams in it, again telling us that being a tag champion means nothing more that "Creative has nothing else for you"
Divas Champion: AJ Lee
When the champion of your division isn't in the main feud of that division what does that say about your title? That we aren't supposed to care about it of course. Jokes about the Divas division aside that is not the way to book any champion.
With all this in mind is it any wonder that fans just simply don't care or are fast becoming disillusioned with the product? With TNA looking increasingly likely to fold by the day there's no real alternative out there which means the WWE are in no obligation to try and change things, which means by the time they do it may already be too late.
Time is eternal. The patience of the fans is not.
Clarence "Showstealer" Mason.